BIG BEAR (CBSLA.com) — Forensic investigators are working to identify human remains recovered in the charred debris of a Big Bear cabin where quadruple murder suspect Christopher Dorner was believed to have been holed up during a firefight that claimed the life of a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy.
“Investigators have located charred human remains within the debris of the burned out cabin,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said in a news release. Forensic techniques will now be used to identify the body.
On Wednesday, an Associated Press source confirmed that Dorner’s California driver’s license was found inside the burned cabin with the body.
Until the remains are positively identified, a modified security detail on at least a dozen out of the 50 Los Angeles police officers named in Dorner’s manifesto will continue, officials said.
“Until Mr. Dorner has been identified as either deceased or he has handcuffs on him and he’s sitting in a jail, we’re gonna continue as though he’s still out there,” Cmdr. Andy Smith said.
The remains were discovered late Tuesday night in a burned-out cabin in the Seven Oaks area of Big Bear.
Authorities believe Dorner, 33, barricaded himself inside the vacant property after he stole one truck, carjacked another and ultimately crashed it Tuesday afternoon.
The resort town was the focus of the manhunt since last Thursday when authorities discovered the former Navy reservist’s burned-out Nissan Titan near Big Bear Lake. Weapons, survival gear and a gas mask were among the charred items recovered from the vehicle.
Despite cabin-to-cabin searches, there was no sign of Dorner for six days until the morning of Feb. 12.
He reportedly broke into a condo in the 1200 block of Club View Road and took a couple hostage. The residence was ironically within sight of a Sheriff’s and media outpost.
The man and woman were held hostage for an unknown amount of time. On Tuesday morning, one of them was able to escape and contact police after Dorner stole their vehicle.
He later abandoned it before carjacking a truck on Highway 38 around 12:20 p.m.
Dorner was spotted by Fish and Game officers and gunfire was exchanged before he fled into the forest and barricaded himself inside a cabin, authorities said.
The suspect then engaged in a raging gun battle with deputies, killing one and injuring another.
CBS2’s Carter Evans and his crew were caught in the middle of the firefight, but were uninjured.
At one point, Dorner tried to escape by throwing a smoke grenade at officers, Carter reported.
The siege continued for hours until around 4:20 p.m. when tear gas was fired into the home. A single gunshot was later heard resonating from inside the residence, Evans reported.
The home quickly became engulfed, although authorities are still not sure how the fire started. The suspect was never seen leaving the cabin.
It is unknown exactly how the person believed to be Dorner died.
The quadruple-murder suspect is accused in the revenge killings of Monica Quan, 28, and her 27-year-old fiancé, Keith Lawrence, in Irvine on Feb. 3.
The 33-year-old suspect was formerly employed as a Los Angeles police officer from 2005 to 2008, when he was fired for making false accusations against a fellow officer.
Quan’s father, a former LAPD Captain, represented Dorner in the hearing that ultimately lead to his dismissal from the force. Dorner was named as a suspect in the deaths of Quan and Lawrence on Feb. 6.
He is also wanted in the ambush murder of Riverside police officer Michael Crain, who was shot to death in his patrol car on Feb. 7.
Crain’s partner was also critically injured in the ambush, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Crain was laid to rest Wednesday morning.
The Los Angeles Police Department refused to comment on the San Bernardino County investigation during a Wednesday news conference.
Highway 330 and Hwy 18 to Big Bear were open Wednesday with no restrictions. Highway 38 is open to only residents of Valley of the Falls, Mountain Home Village, and Angeles Oaks.
Residents of these communities must show proper identification.
Highway 38 remains inaccessible to all other traffic until the ongoing investigation is resolved.